Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter was written by Macleay/Nambucca/Bellingen editor Christian Knight.
By all accounts, 2019 was not such a hot year - except perhaps if you're talking temperatures.
It was the year we were Offended by Everything, and many celebrated its passing.
With 2020 hindsight (pun intended), 2019 is starting to not look so bad after all.
We're but three months in to the new year and it's primed to be an annus horribilis.
It might just be known as the year we are Scared by Everything.
There were the devastating bushfires and floods - and the sorrow they brought warranted our tears.
And now COVID-19 - but is our calamitous angst warranted?
So far, there's been five deaths in Australia attributed to the coronavirus. That said, world leaders are almost united in their concern about this pandemic. And the situation is changing rapidly. Who knows what it will be like as you read this, let alone in a day or week's time.
How this disease is framed has morphed dramatically.
Only days ago some were suggesting we swallow a perspective pill.
Compare the current coronavirus toll in Australia to the scores of people who pass every year from the 'common' flu, or contrast it with the thousands who fall to cancer.
There was a meme kicking around social media last week. It went along the lines of people posting: 'Marked safe from whatever it is the media wants me to be afraid of today'.
The media of course are a nice soft target - damned if they report on a threat, and crucified if they don't. But we're a big estate so we'll cop the shellacking.
Journalists are affected by the news of the day as much as anyone else. A tide of grim tidings such as we've been confronted with of late can wear the spirit.
Fortunately, there are sanctuaries where 'normal life' keeps on keeping on.
I'm lucky enough to live in a tiny 'suburb' on the Mid North Coast of NSW. It's mostly rolling green hills and farmland. There's certainly not a single shop, or even a community hall.
Coming home after a long day stressing mildly about the coronavirus - I heard my phone 'ping' as a neighbour had posted to our little group of residents on a Messenger chat app.
Apparently, one of the young cows in the area had been spotted wandering about with a plastic bag on its head - and "could everyone keep an eye out" and try and remove said bag.
I realised then how fortunate I am to call home to a place where the antics of a mischievous bovine is the talk of the 'town'.
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